(Bloomberg) — LeBron James added to his vast list of accomplishments on the basketball court Tuesday night, when he scored 38 points in a Los Angeles Lakers loss to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA career scoring record.
Another of his impressive feats: becoming a billionaire while still dominating a league he’s been a part of for two decades.
James, 38, has a net worth of about $1.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which is valuing his fortune for the first time. His wealth is made up of a mixture of his National Basketball Association salary — tens of millions of dollars a year in recent seasons — as well as sponsorships, investments and his own consumer and entertainment business, the SpringHill Co.
Dubbed “King James” since his prodigious high-school career led the Cleveland Cavaliers to select him with first pick of the 2003 NBA draft, James has long said he wanted to be a billionaire. He’s hobnobbed with business executives and dined with Warren Buffett, who advised him in a 2015 TV interview to be “making monthly investments in the low-cost index fund.”
“Somebody else will end up doing better with this or that, but somebody will end up doing a lot of worse with this or that too,” said Buffett, now 92, who ranks fifth on the Bloomberg index of the world’s richest people with a $109.1 billion fortune. “Their expertise is making a lot of money doing something they do extremely well, but they aren’t going to generally be able to take the time to become a professional investor too. So it’s the same advice I give 99% of people.”
James has proven to be part of that rarefied 1%.
SpringHill was recently valued at about $725 million after James and business partner Maverick Carter sold a minority stake to a group of investors, including Nike Inc., the company that James agreed to a lucrative lifetime sponsorship with in late 2015. That deal is expected to bring James $1 billion over his lifetime.
James has also worked with companies like restaurant chain Blaze Pizza, acquiring a stake worth tens of millions of dollars. He collected more than $100 million after Beats Electronics was sold to Apple Inc. for $3 billion in 2014. In 2021, James converted his 2% stake in Liverpool FC into 1% of its owner’s Fenway Sports Group, which oversees a portfolio worth about $10 billion.
James, who’s making a $44.5 million salary this year, is averaging 30 points per game for the Lakers, seventh-most in the league. He also ranks 12th in assists and in the top 30 in rebounds — still stuffing the stat sheet after some 20 years in the NBA.
He’s suggested that his goal is to keep at it long enough to take the court with his son, Bronny, a high school senior who’s widely considered an elite prospect. They’d be the first father-son duo to play together in an NBA game.
“My last year will be played with my son,” James told the Athletic a year ago. “It’s not about the money at that point.”